"Jerusalem, Jerusalem... how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing." Matthew 23.37
Mothering Sunday was traditionally the day that domestic servants were allowed to return home to their "mother church". It has since been associated with the concept of "mothering" and, inevitably, with the commercial opportunities offered by "Mother's Day" (Bah, humbug). So for the first time ever, far from gathering in any church, mother or other, we find ourselves worshipping apart. But only in the physical sense. In the event of not being able to attend an occasion, we sometimes say to one another "I'll be with you in spirit". Well, it's true in the sense that we are united in God's Holy Spirit - and we are about to discover how essential that is.
So, what is it that Mothering Sunday evokes in us? Perhaps an appreciation for our earthly mothers. Or, for the mothers among us, the pain and privilege of being a mother? For all of us maybe recognition of the nurturing qualities of God, who made the universe and sustains it, and us, in his love? I have waxed lyrical before about the Tearfund booklet I am using during Lent. Here is a poem by its author, theologian Gideon Heugh:
The ground that hatred has gained
will be retaken by love;
the losses that we've sustained
will be remembered by love;
the tears that we've cried
will be wiped away by love;
the pain and grief inside
will be healed by love;
a world that seems divided
will be remade by love;
this fight is one-sided -
the universe was built by love
and it was made to bring us together;
love is patient, kind, formidable, invincible
and it's the only thing that will last forever.
Not even death can defeat love.
So all the sorrow and the loneliness,
all of the anger and the bitterness
all confusion and brokenness
will be outflanked, outdone,
outmatched and overcome
Gum bi deagh latha agaibh agus is dòcha gum bi na suidheachaidhean sònraichte seo a' breith rudeigin ùr agus iongantach tro gràdh iongantach is cruthachail Dhè!